Legaspi v Minister of Finance Summary: Petition filed by the Honorable Valentino L. Legaspi, incumbent member of the interim Batasang Pambansa, praying that this Court declare Presidential Decree 1840 “granting tax amnesty and filing of statement of assets and liabilities and some other purposes” unconstitutional. Facts: This PD was issued under Amendment no. 6 of the consti that was proclaimed in full force and effect as of October 27, 1976 which says the president, in grave emergency of threat, or whenever the BP or the r egular NA cannot act adequately on any matter, can issue the necessary decrees, orders, LOI, in order to meet the exigency, and which will form part of the land This was promulgated despite the consti saying leg po wer will be vested in a BP and the president may o only grant amnesty with concurrence of the BP Legaspi claimed That Amendment No. 6 is not one of the powers granted the President by the Constitution as amended in the plebiscite of April 7, 1981 in sec. 16 art 7 of the 1973 consti and that such re-confirmation of existing powers did not mean to include the President’s legislative powers under Amendment No. 6 Issue: Whether the 1973 Constitution as amended by Plebiscite-Referendum of 1976, retained the same amendments, more particularly Amendment No. 6, after it was again amended in the Plebiscite held on April 7, 1981? Held: NO Legaspi maintained that Amendment No. 6 is rendered inoperable, deleted and/or repealed by the a mendments of April 7, 1981 He says the term incumbent president mentioned here could only refer to president Marcos o o He also says that leg power is granted to a president (prime minister) and not either! This is in conflict now since the 2 positions are now separated Consti provisions of the presidency do not restate the provisions of amendment no. 6 which grants the president (prime minster) to legislate tantamount to repeal by omission! That the 1976 amendments are amendments to the transitory provisions and that the office of the pres o and pM have ceased to be transitory under the newly amended consti o Legaspi also questions question no. 1 in the ballot for the plebiscite which does not submit that the pres will enjoy leg powers SC: Legaspi’s petition lacks merit!! Constitutional provisions are to be interpreted not only on the basis of current events, but also on the basis of the historical background of their enactment o Constitutional law is not simply the literal a pplication of the words of the Charter. The ancient and familiar rule of constitutional construction that has consistently maintained its intrinsic o and transcendental worth is that the meaning and understanding conveyed by the language, albeit plain, of any of its provisions do not only portray the influence of current events and developments but likewise the inescapable imperative considerations rooted in the historical background and environment at the time of its adoption and thereby caused their being written as part and parcel thereof. o True enough Article VIII, Sec. 1 of the Philippine Constitution as amended in 1981 explicitly ordains that the legislative power shall be vested in a Batasang Pa mbansa. Section 2, however, readily reveals that the Batasang Pambansa contemplated in that Section 1 is the regular assembly, to be elected in May 1984, per Sec. 5(1) of the same Article. We must keep in mind that at least for the present and until 1984, what can be properly discussed here are only the legislative powers of the interim Batasang Pambansa as such as a matter of fact, the the BP now is still the same interim assembly assembly contemplated contemplated by amendment no. 2 to the 1973 consti transitory provisions The only change in amendment no. 2 consisted of the non- inclusion of the “ incumbent president ” as o a member of the assembly in order to separate the presidency from the regular legislative body to establish a modified form of parliamentary suited for our political condition evident that the
reference to amendment no. 2 was not intended to convert/upgrade present existing assembly into the regular BP still interim! Since it is still interim, this follows that its legislative authority cannot be more exclusive now after 1981 amendments than when it was originally created in 1976 there can be no question that at the same time with the creation of the interim Batasan, Amendment No. 6 came into force and effect. And Amendment No. 6 mandates in unequivocal and unambiguous terms the grant of concurrent legislative authority to an official (the President [Prime Minister]) who is not in the Batasan itself. Ration d’tre of amendment no. 6 Contrary to the imputations of petitioner, this amendment is not rooted in the authoritarian, much less o dictatorial tendencies or inclinations of anyone. Such hue of a one-man authoritarianism it somehow connotes is there only b ecause it is so dictated by o paramount considerations that are needed in order to safeguard the very existence and integrity of the nation and all that it stands for. Perhaps the truism -- almost a dogma -- well recognized by constitutionalists and political scientists of o all persuasions as a convenient pragmatic rule for survival of nations, namely, that in an emergency, the best form of government is a dictatorship, might have been in the mind of those who formulate it, but it is quite obvious, as will be explained anon, that other fundamental factors must have been taken into account in order precisely to minimize the rigors and generally feared oppressiveness of a dictatorship in an unrestricted martial r egime o Note that the power amendment no. 6 vests upon the president (prime minister) can only be exercised when in (1) his judgement there exists a grave emergency and threat thereof, and (2) whenever the interm BP or the regular NA fails to act adequately on any matter obviously It is a power that the consti confers to him in times of crises and emergencies note that both 1935 and 1987 constis intended to operate this ratio during perilous situations like war, insurrection, rebellion, invasion o Within the 4 corners of the consti there were 4 constitutionally designed ways of coping with abnormal situations in the country: emergency powers delegated by the assembly, calling out powers, suspension of the privilege of the writ of HC, and martial law so why need amendment no. 6? People hate martial law!! marcos is aware of this but he was also aware that something was needed for national security amendment no. 6 was born! the central idea that emerged was that martial law may be earlier lifted, but to safeguard our country o and people against any abrupt dangerous situation which would warrant the exercise of some authoritarian powers, amendment no. 6 must be constitutionally allowed designed to make it practically unnecessary to proclaim martial law, except in instances of actual surface warfare or rebellious activities or very sophisticated subversive actions that cannot be adequately met without martial law itself. o the purpose of Amendment No. 6 is that the Philippines be henceforth spared of martial law unless manifest extreme situations should ever demand it. Critics say amendment no. 6 and martial law the same (a dog with another collar) WRONG o Amendment no. 6 is a more restrained way of conferring law-making authority to the executive during emergency limited, restricted, subject to conditions, and temporary Obviously the simplest remedy least violence to constitutional processes o o Should matters really go out of hand martial law Legaspi maintains that said amendments vested extraordinary legislative powers on the President (Prime Minister) and on nobody else, and since there is no one who is President (Prime Minister) under our present governmental set-up pursuant to 1981 amendments, no one in the existing government can exercise said powers if we go solely by rules of literature: puwede pa o the Constitution is not merely a literal document to be always read according to the plain and ordinary signification of its words o Elements and factors radiating from political and economic developments of the situation prevailing at the time of the inclusion of any particular provision thereof or amendment thereto only in light of these that the real implications of such elements and factors that the real essence and significance of
the words of the consti provision can be comprehended the literal reference to “the President (Prime Minister)” in Amendment No. 6 was the intention to o make such reference descriptive of the person on whom is vested the totality of the executive power under the system of government established thereby. o Also, the amendment does not speak of the “incumbent President” only, but of the Pr esident, meaning to include all future presidents power isn’t for marcos alone! the fact that Amendment No. 6 was not in any way or sense mentioned in the amendments submitted to the people for ratification in 1981 and there being nothing in the latter intrinsically inconsistent with the former, it is safe to conclude that it would be deceiving the people themselves and depriving them of something they had decided in 1976 to be part of the fundamental law of the land to now eliminate the power conferred by them upon the Executive of sharing legislative authority with the Batasan on appropriate occasions of emergency and urgency.